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Thanks for stopping in... We’re a small Mexican folk art store located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We personally choose ALL of our hand made pieces from talented artisans all over the great country of Mexico.

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Zinnia Blog
04.10

What's Up with You Selling Mexican Folk Art?

Posted by Anne Damon in Zinnia Folk Arts News
Folk Art Shopkeeper in Taxco, Mexico
The most frequent question I'm asked is, "What got you started selling Mexican folk art?" 
It all started when I was in high school and lived in Toluca, Mexico with a Mexican family for the summer. I attended summer school to learn Spanish. I loved it. My Spanish improved but mostly I loved the culture of life, color, living out loud, eating scrambled eggs with chorizo at 10pm with my Mexican sister, walking to school with my friend through the cobblestone streets with dogs and boys yipping at us, going to the amazing Toluca mercado, and translating Creedence Clearwater Revival (yuk) lyrics for my younger Mexican brother. It was such a different world view from my little high school life in my little town in Wisconsin and I have never forgotten the lesson I learned then, that there is a big world out there that doesn't see life exactly the same way we do in the United States.
My first Mexican folk art purchases at age 16 were a woven colorful market basket, a tree of life (which I know now was from Izucar de Matamoros), some inexpensive filagree earrings and some tire-soled huaraches. I was the only one in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin who wore huaraches. The migrant workers in Fox Lake did, but not anglo high school girls.

I went on to study Spanish through high school and college. I eventually moved to Tucson, Arizona to be a public health nurse and worked with Mexican-Americans in South Tucson for three years. I visited Nogales almost every weekend and if not there, then drove farther south to Hermosillo or Guaymas on a fairly regular basis. My Spanish improved and my love affair with all things Mexican grew, always collecting unique and colorful pieces wherever I went.  When I returned to the Midwest I brought with me my great love of Mexico and it's beautiful approach to life--food, color, joy, whimsy, faith, family and amazing traditional arts.

When I left the Southwest, I reduced my frequent visits to Mexico but for many years I would travel to Mexico for a vacation from the bitter Minnesota winters to various locations including Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa, Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, San Miguel de Allende, and Acapulco. About that time I frequented a small shop in St. Paul called "The Old Mexico Shop" on Grand Avenue owned by Billie Young and Mary Wilson. I remember thinking that I'd like to do what they were doing. They drove a station wagon to Mexico five times per year and went town to town hunting for Mexican folk art. Billie eventually wrote a wonderfully descriptive book about the experience called Mexican Odyssey. Many of their experiences are now my experiences because things have not changed in some ways in Mexico since those days of the early 80's.
I have done lots of interesting things professionally--public health nursing, refugee resettlement, health and human services administration. I've also raised two wonderful boys who are now almost launched. I have also collected lots of beautiful pieces of folk art from all over the world. I explored the world of museums when I got a Master's in Arts Administration and worked at the Science Museum of Minnesota with their Mexican folk art collection. So, my wish to display the folk art in a way that it can really be seen and enjoyed for its beauty and creativity was influenced by lots of "looking and seeing" through my whole life--looking at photos, museums, galleries, museum shops, home design and curated collections everywhere. I've tried to combine all of those experiences in a way that makes Zinnia Folk Arts truly a one of a kind shop in the United States. And quite a few people have told me that it is that. So that makes me happy.
About 8 years ago, I decided with the support of my wonderful husband, to pursue my dream of traveling around a country I love and respect so much, to look for beautifully made and unique pieces of folk art of all different kinds of media. I've been lucky to have a friend and neighbor, Connie, who helped me immensely when I started--coming with me while I learned how to do it all in a foreign country and in a new small business. I've had lots of support from many friends, family and volunteers in and out of the shop and through my learning experiences at GUILD Collective. I now have two wonderful employees, Leslie and Paulette, and a super great friend, Marla, who fills in for me whenever needed.
So, that's what happened.
  • What a wonderful story and what a charmed life you live! I, too, have my tire-soled huaraches I bought in Juarez. I take them out of the box, think of giving them to goodwill but tuck them back in my closet thinking I may wear then again sometime. I just can’t let go of them. My best friend and I went on a month long trip around the western U.S. after graduating from college. When we visited her friends in El Paso, they took us across to Juarez. I fell in love with Mexico then in this dusty border town, my first time in Mexico.

    Posted by Mary Rassmussen on January 14, 2016
  • Great story. I went to Mexico to see the Olympics in 1968 and drive an old VW buss 14,000 miles covering just about every state in this amazing country. I especially like the open markets in Northern Mexico and the more colonial villages and prefer the older art which is becoming very difficult to find and also painfully expensive. I have also been collecting kachinas from the Hopi in Northern Arizona however different the Mexican art the kachinas are loosing value which is good for me,

    I do not see any paper mache. I am also very interested in the devils from Ocumiho so if you ever come across any please let me know. I have about 30 older pieces

    Posted by Bob Stauss on January 14, 2016
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